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New sites fact check politicians, journalists

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Well, you're in for it now.

For the next eleven months, no matter how much you may wish for relief, it will be virtually impossible to escape politics. Ad campaigns - and budgets - that make Madison Avenue green with joy. Candidates trying to get interviewed by anyone with a microphone (the only time they'll be this accessible). Local and national news coverage in every medium from network television to one-man weblogs.

And though this may come as a shock, some of the information disseminated during this period may not be entirely accurate. Purely accidental of course - politicians would never aim to mislead or deceive, and wouldn't want us to vote for them if they did (I hope you appreciate that I'm keeping a straight face as I type this) - but there is such a thing as healthy skepticism, and this week's websites will help you to separate fact from fiction during the campaigns of '04.

Both of the sites being reviewed this week are new and specifically dedicated to truth in politics. (And Diogenes thought he had it rough.) The first operates under the name, FactCheck.org, and tops its home page with the mission statement of "Holding Politicians Accountable," and the Daniel Moynihan quote, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts."

From those three bits of introductory information, we can already build a pretty clear picture of what the site is all about, but just to fill in the details, FactCheck (online since December) monitors the accuracy of political speeches, ads, interviews and any other method that one candidate, party, or special interest group might use in promoting a specific view - and then posts, shall we say, "clarifications," online.

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